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Carrol Vertrees: No power? No problem

Carrol Vertrees

Carrol Vertrees

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Updated: August 2, 2013 6:21AM



When our lights and TV went off during a recent storm, people were complaining about the power outage. Heck, back on the farm we didn’t have power outages because we didn’t have power “inages.”

Storms did not affect our kerosene lamps, but they did drive us to the cellar. Not basement. Cellar.

I exaggerated, but I once told a friend that I knew some of the cellar spiders by name. Later in my growing up days I was puzzled when I heard or read about a baseball team being in the cellar. I figured the team was having a stormy season.

We were lucky. No refrigerators to shut down and make the butter soft. Our icebox just went on cooling and melting at its own speed.

My caring mom was the “time for the cellar” director, so we went. She feared storms, but mostly she worried about our safety. I don’t know what she would tell us if she were in our condo, but I would listen.

There were no crackpot evangelical voices out there telling us that bad storms hit people because God was mad at us for our sinful ways. I think we were lucky we did not have television, but some warnings would have been helpful. Scary but helpful.

Our storm cellars lacked restroom facilities, but then so did our house. I remember that.

We had names for the storms, not scientific, but descriptive. Gully washer. Clod soaker. Toad strangler. Storms that hit while we were in the fields with horses or a tractor often caught us before we could reach shelter — the barn, usually. Lightning was, and still is, a scary piece of the weatherperson’s work. We kids were warned early to avoid taking shelter under a tree.

That reminds me of some wisdom from Lee Trevino, a witty pro golfer from some years back. He got hit by lightning during a storm while he was on the course, and later he said that every golfer should carry a 1-iron “Because even God cannot hit a 1-iron.” Golfers will understand that one.

I wonder sometimes if the biblical experts who can read God’s mind on the storm thing were ever hit by lightning. A fellow named Paul survived that and became a strong biblical voice; I suspect that he was in a different kind of storm, one that touched his soul. But that is way beyond my understanding.

Night storms were scary. Spooky. On mornings after our cellar visit, we could see limbs and other debris left by the winds, and usually we were lucky. Not because we were special but because “that’s the way the wind blows,” as the old saying goes.

There was a special lesson in the daytime storms, written colorfully in the clearing sky. A rainbow. I do not understand physics, astronomy or theology. Maybe there is some of all these in a rainbow. We should look for rainbows.

That message in the sky was a kind of palliative after the ominous darkness, lightning, winds and rumbles of thunder had passed away.

Storms often come down on us without warning, in daylight or darkness. We need rainbows to help in stormy times. Sometimes rainbows come in a friend’s smile, the touch of a hand, a smile, a baby’s laugh, a surprise bouquet of roses, the sound of music.

I didn’t think of that as a kid running to the cellar on a dark night, but now I know, even without listening to TV evangelists or folks carrying signs warning about the anger of God. Do they have cellars of safety I wonder? Do they even bother to look for rainbows?



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